In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre and in the looming shadow of efforts and proposals to restrict legal access by law abiding citizens to firearms ranging from limiting magazine capacity to outright bans and confiscation; it is important to separate fact from fiction and answer the argument of those who would seek to abridge the 2nd Amendment rights of ordinary Americans.
It has been said that every time there is a mass shooting, someone tries to take guns away from the people who didn’t do it!
The fact is that most gun control advocates are frightened of firearms, have never owned, held or fired a gun, and hold misconceptions about both the hardware and the right to bear it. So let’s set the record straight and address these directly.
Myth # 1: Reducing access to guns makes us safer.
Evidence proves otherwise. Chicago has the most restrictive gun laws in America, and the highest gun violence! New York, Detroit and DC are also highly restrictive in their gun laws. On the other hand, when Florida became one of the earliest adopters of “shall issue” concealed carry permits, they became a test-bed for such legislation and many studies were conducted. The overall conclusion was that crime decreased in every county, and that the only areas where crime increased was in the vicinity of the airports – where criminals could expect passengers to be unarmed.
Further, witness the nation of Switzerland, where every family is issued a fully automatic weapon by the government and is trained in its use. Switzerland has no need of a standing army and their neutrality has not been violated! They have the lowest crime rate in the world! An armed society is a polite society.
Even the uber-liberal, Walter Mondale once stated, “Gun bans don't disarm criminals; gun bans attract them.” April 20, 1994
The founders understood this:
“Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property… Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.” –Thomas Paine
“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” - Thomas Jefferson
Myth # 2: Hunters and sports shooters have no need of the firepower inherent in AR-15 type weapons with standard capacity (30 round) magazines.
Whether a hunter or target shooter needs these weapons for these pursuits or not is irrelevant, as the 2nd Amendment is not restricted to hunting and sports shooting.
"To prohibit a citizen from wearing or carrying a war arm . . . is an unwarranted restriction upon the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. If cowardly and dishonorable men sometimes shoot unarmed men with army pistols or guns, the evil must be prevented by the penitentiary and gallows, and not by a general deprivation of constitutional privilege." (Wilson v. State, 33 Ark. 557 (1878).
Myth #3: “Semi Automatic” weapons should be banned. Also magazines holding more than 10 rounds are unnecessary. The ability to fire so many rounds so quickly is why these mass shootings kill so many people.
Firstly, hoplophobes (gun-o-phobes) tend to confuse “semi-auto” with “automatic”. An automatic weapon continuously chambers and fires for as long as the trigger is held, or until the magazine is empty. Think tommy gun. Fully automatic weapons are heavily restricted and are not available to the general public.
On the other hand, “Semi-Auto” means simply that after firing a round, the next round is automatically chambered and available to fire. If you don’t cock a lever, pump a pump, slide a bolt or turn a cylinder, the weapon is a semi-automatic. That .22 Ruger 10/22 rifle that your kid may have shot in summer camp riflery is a semi-automatic weapon.
Okay, let’s suppose a gunman enters a school, movie theatre, mall or other gun-free zone with a standard deer rifle. Bolt action with a 10 round clip. Completely outside the definitions floated for an “assault” type weapon subject to proposed bans. He has a number of additional clips in his pocket.
Also let’s figure that he’s not a crackerjack marksman, and that it takes him 5 full seconds after firing a shot to cycle the bolt to chamber the next round, select and aim at the next target, and fire the next round.
At this rate of fire, our hypothetical gunman can empty that clip of 10 rounds in 50 seconds, leaving him 10 seconds to exchange clips before emptying a 2nd clip in the 2nd minute.
Given the typical 5 minute response time of police, our hypothetical gunman can squeeze off 50 rounds without breaking a sweat before police arrive.
On the other hand, were there no “gun-free zones”, how many rounds do you suppose he would get off, regardless of the type weapon he were carrying, before some law abiding concealed carry citizen would draw down and return fire?
The problem is not semi-automatic weapons. It is gun-free killing zones.
Myth #4: The 2nd Amendment was just about muskets.
Actually our founders intended access to firearms for the protection of the population against the re-emergence of tyranny in their own government, if necessary! Therefore they intended for citizens to have access to equivalent firepower to that of the government!
“A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.” – George Washington
“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” - Thomas Jefferson
"Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence … from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable … the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that's good." -George Washington
“We should not forget that the spark which ignited the American Revolution was caused by the British attempt to confiscate the firearms of the colonists.” - Patrick Henry
Myth #5 : It’s up to the police to protect us. Let them do their job.
As the quote goes, “When seconds count the police are only minutes away”. In a life or death situation an unarmed person can only perform 2 actions – call for the police, and pray they arrive in time.
As we stated above, our hypothetical gunman could get off 50 rounds easily before the cops showed up. Even more significantly, and even less known or comprehended… the police are under no legal obligation to protect you!
In a 2005 Supreme Court case, Castle Rock v Gonzales, the court decided 7-2 that the city could not be sued for the police’s failure to enforce an order of protection a divorced women had against her ex. He eventually killed their kids. The court found that "enforcement of the restraining order was not mandatory under Colorado law; were a mandate for enforcement to exist, it would not create an individual right to enforcement that could be considered a protected entitlement under the precedent of Board of Regents of State Colleges v. Roth; and even if there were a protected individual entitlement to enforcement of a restraining order, such entitlement would have no monetary value and hence would not count as property for the Due Process Clause."
Our founders gave us the 2nd Amendment. They didn’t give us the right to bear arms. The founders believed this right was already inherent and inalienable. The 2nd Amendment guaranteed that this God-given right would not be abridged by the government.
This right is under assault by those who would disarm us in preparation of their move toward usurping more control over us. This effort is bolstered by those whose ignorance of firearms, of gun owners, of history, of statistical evidence and of the constitution leaves them with only fear.
"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." – Sigmund Freud
People fear what they don’t understand. We must do more to promote this understanding.